Sunday, 31 August 2014

Bargain Hunting On eBay - Man O War & Risk Legacy

"What's this world coming to, Cratchit? You work all your life to get money... then people want you to give it away."
We Scots have a bit of a reputation when it comes to money.  Sometimes it's phrased more politely and we are described as frugal or prudent.... but more often we're tight, spendthrifts and misers.  There's a reason Scrooge McDuck gets that Mc in his name, after all!

While I'm prone to spend money on nerdy things fairly often, I do like a bargain and I spend quite a long time on eBay hunting for things.  Especially when you are interested in older RPGs & wargames you can find some things go for a lot of money: Chaos Dwarfs and Squats are particularly prone to this due to how long they've been out of print, which is why I've been experimenting with home casting rather than paying eBay's prices for 80s/90s figures. 

I received two large packages this week, each of which was the result of an eBay purchase where I feel I got a good deal - and each of them is something I'd like to get a chance to play sometime soon.

Death to false metal!.... No, wait, sorry wrong Manowar.
 Man O' War was the first big boxed wargame I ever bought from Games Workshop.  I had been introduced to them through Space Crusade and Hero Quest, and I did get the original version of the Horus Heresy wargame beforehand, but this was an important turning point for me.  I still remember the day I got it - a family weekend away in Newcastle with my parents, my aunt Rosa and the then-months-old little cousin Duncan.  As any self respecting 9 year old rammed in a car for hours at a time with a screaming baby I was not an especially cheery chappy and my Dad took pity on me when we were in the Metrocentre and helped me buy this.

(Fun fact: I can't remember what I had for dinner three nights ago, but I can remember that Games Workshop in the MetroCentre was in Upper Red 14.  I just Googled them and apparently they moved in the last couple of years to a different part of the centre, but it was a pretty constant haunt for me on our occasional trips south of the border.)

Like a few other old GW games of mine it's somewhere back home in a slightly poor condition, so last year I picked up a copy of eBay.  You may be confused to hear that I bought another copy this week: however, there is a reason for that...

Double whammy
That reason is the supplement Sea of Blood which covered rules for flyers and sea monsters.  (And it's basically intact, with a lot of cardboard sheets unpunched)  The two items were being sold together and the supplements for Man O' War can go for quite high sums, but I managed to get them both for about the same as I paid for Man O' War last year.  I will probably sell Man O' War on.

But the fun doesn't stop there, as there was another item that made this auction a super-bargain.  The auction description was a little vague but rummaging through like a good spendthrift Scot I noticed these in the pictures....

An entire Dwarf fleet is within, painted but complete with some original boxes.  These go for pretty silly money on eBay - like, twenty or thirty quid per box - and I lucked into them for a fraction of their likely worth.  And even ignoring the figures, getting old GW boxes with polystyrene trays made me feel 10 again.

All the metal figures therein: 2 Dreadnoughts, 3 Ironclads, 2 Monitors, 3 Nautilus, 3 Gyrocopters, 3 War Balloons and a random out-of-place High Elf vessel.
So that's an entire Dwarf fleet, with every possibly figure accounted at least once... and most of them would be fairly straightforward for me to cast if I want more.  Looks like a new painting project may be in my future!

Package number 2, which came to my work and thoroughly confused my colleagues

My other recent purchase is Risk Legacy.  t's an odd purchase for me because I don't actually have much experience at Risk: at Uni a chunk of my friends were very into it but I never really gave it a try.  I was given Lord of the Rings Risk as a present a decade ago but never really got around to giving it a chance  However, everything I've heard about Risk Legacy meant I knew I had to try it.

Damaged goods
It is, however, fifty notes new and on eBay it doesn't tend to go for much less than that - it's a bit of an ask for a board game I have no experience with, even if it sounds cool.  After a lot of trawling I found someone selling an unused copy which had suffered box damage in storage/transit.  True enough, one side of the box has a crunch, but nothing that ruined my day and I got it a good bit off RPP because of this.

I've picked up a few damaged nerd goods over the years - my local shop Static occasionally has sales on "Dinged" goods - and they tend to be mostly superficial damage which a game which gets used will probably acquire in time anyway.  As promised by the seller the damage was just to one part of the box and all contents were as new.  Frugal Scotsman for the win!

Rule book, two sheets of punch-out tokens and a sheet of stickers
You could be forgiven for being underwhelmed by this first look at the contents which look vaguely sci-fi but otherwise dull.  OK, so it's got some pretty pictures and funky tokens you don't see in basic Risk - so far, so not worth fifty quid.  It's that top right corner that should catch your eye though as there's stickers.  These stickers are not applied before you play: they're applied as you play.  They do not come off again.

See Risk Legacy is a game for three to five players in which you play multiple games of Risk.  Each time you play, the game will change: the stickers represent building cities or fortresses or marking them as ruined.  Each time you play, whether you win or lose, you get to change the game board in some fashion.  These changes persist so that the next time you play you can use the fortress you built as a strongpoint - or the enemy can try and conquer your capital city, turning it to dust or using it as their own base

Four packets on the box lid, two packed on the tray.
The game changes in more ways than that, though.  There are six packets when you open the box up with big hazard stripes and instructions on them.  OPEN WHEN.... they say, and give an in game moment to pop them open.  So on the top left I have a packet to pen when all seven Minor City stickers are on the board, while in the tray there's a packet to open when three missiles are used in the same fight.

When they do get opened I could find new stickers, new cards, new tokens, new pieces.... or instructions to remove pre-existing pieces from the game permanently.  I won't know until I get there.  There's even gaps in the rulebook where stickers will go over-writing some sections of the basic rules!  In any case, these changes will persist and all future games with the box will continue with those changes.

Serious business: it makes you sign before you play
So unlike other board games this one emphasises an RPG style "campaign play".  There's a sticker on the underside of the board, the first thing visible when you open the box, asking all the players who are going to go through Risk Legacy over however many weeks or months to sign before they play promising to adhere to the changes that occur.  If you do that "three missiles in a single combat" thing and open that box.... then you have given your word as a gentleman/woman that you will abide by it.

The board, unfolded.  (With Mario mushroom coaster reminding you all how much of a nerd I am)

The game board looks very similar to normal Risk, though the changes may pop out to the sharper of you.  Those white rounded "X" symbols on each location are markers to show you where to put the stickers.  The continents have no names: big white spaces by each one allow players to name continents as the game progresses, and one obtains benefits for being in the continent you named.

The roll call
On the bottom left corner, a section allows the winner of each of the 15 games to write their name down.  At the end of 15 games the overall winner gets to name the planet, a final mark made to the board.  After that play can continue as many further games as you want but the game is finally fixed - and after 15 games, completely changed from the beginning with the cards, stickers, tokens and playing pieces all shuffled about.

I've messaged a few of my board gaming and war gaming chums to see if they would like to get a Risk Legacy group going.  Hopefully this is something I can write more about soon.

Oh, yeah, and this is under the plastic tray, hiding at the bottom of the box...

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